The Commerce News
July 3, 2001
Is More Than Flags, Fireworks
Maybe it is appropriate on this day (July 4) for Americans who
are observing the birthday of our nation to think about the issue
of the day patriotism.
So often, patriotism is neatly wrapped up in images of saluting
the flag, of fireworks, parades, of songs that arouse our nationalistic
feelings. Unless we give some thought to the word, we cheapen
it and we reduce the strong feelings for our country to the insincere.
We have largely reduced patriotism to the idea of saluting the
flag, singing the national anthem and reciting the Pledge of
Allegiance to the American Flag. None of those are bad, but they
do not define patriotism.
You consider yourself a patriot. I consider myself one as well,
but I dare say our ideas about how to demonstrate that are different.
Take the issue of the flag.
I believe the flag should be treated with respect but that
it is just a symbol of a country that, at the moment, is the
most powerful and (in my opinion) the best in the world. That
flag symbolizes, among many other things, our constitutional
right to free speech. That, in turn, gives those who disagree
with what our country is doing the right to burn the American
flag in protest. I have never reached a level of disgust with
American policy that would lead me to support flag burning, but
such an event is imaginable.
More troubling is the disrespect the flag-waving public shows
for our national standard. Some think it is patriotic to wear
clothing made from elements of our flag. The weaving of the stars
and stripes in red, white and blue into shirts is meant to suggest
patriotism; I think it shows disrespect for the flag. Others
use the flag for marketing, as though we should do business with
them because they advertise that they're patriotic.
To me, the patriots are the citizens who understand the responsibilities
of citizenship. They pay their taxes, obey the laws and they
vote. They respect the rights of others, including the right
to be different; they understand that Americans come in all shapes,
sizes, colors and religions, that they have differing cultural
values, heritages and histories. They may or may not have a flag
pin on their lapel, but they do understand that the freedoms
we have were bought with the blood of earlier generations and
are not to be taken lightly or surrendered without thought.
Patriots may be Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians or Independents;
they may be Baptists, Catholics, Jews or atheists. Their forefathers
may have been on the Mayflower, or standing on the shore watching
as it unloaded. They may be fresh off the boat, or a generation
across the border.
We don't demonstrate our patriotism by saluting the flag or reciting
the Pledge. We show it by daily actions that indicate we appreciate
what America is, has and offers and that we understand that the
greatest freedom our country provides is the freedom to be ourselves.
We love our flag, but we cherish the freedoms that make us the
envy of the world.
Let's remember that waving the flag and reciting the Pledge don't
make us patriots. It's how we live.
The Jackson Herald
July 3, 2001
126 years of publishing
Last month, this newspaper marked its 126th year of publishing.
That's a long time for any enterprise and makes The Jackson Herald
Jackson County's oldest business.
We've often wondered what sparked the birth of this newspaper
in 1875. The Civil War was still fresh in the minds of area citizens
and Georgia was struggling to overcome the devastation wrought
from that conflict. Yet, that difficult era saw the birth of
many local newspapers across the state and nation. Indeed, it
seems as if the turmoil of that time helped to nurture and feed
the fledgling press.
Today, of course, times are different. In just the last two decades,
newspapers have undergone a technological revolution that is
difficult to measure. The advent of the personal computer has
automated many of the manual functions that were common to newspapering
until just a few years ago.
Along with that, the quality of most newspapers has increased
as production has become easier and quicker. One obvious example
has been the expanded use of color photographs. Until just a
few years ago, the production for color photographs was very
difficult and expensive. Now, computers and digital cameras make
color photo production fast and easy.
But while the technology of newspapering has changed, the fundamental
role of newspapers has stayed the same. We report on events that
happen in the community and we attempt to provide a leadership
role in addressing some of the key issues facing our citizens.
For the last 126 years, The Jackson Herald has been a part of
the Jackson County community - we have seen the county through
good times and bad. We've reported and commented on both.
But it is our readers who have made us successful. Your loyalty
is what keeps us putting words on the page and your interest
in Jackson County is what drives our reporters to the dozens
of meetings and events they cover each month.
And as long as we have loyal readers, this newspaper will continue
to grow and flourish for another 126 years to come.
The Jackson Herald
July 3, 2001
recreation program a mess
There's a fight brewing in Jefferson and the outcome may leave
a lot of parents hopping mad.
For a number of years, recreation programs in Jackson County
have been mostly run in a loose-knit fashion. With the exception
of Commerce, which has its own city recreation department, rec
sports have been coordinated between the county recreation department
and volunteer community booster clubs from all over the county.
That system hasn't always been perfect. The county department
has been up and down over the years. But for the most part, the
As the county has grown, so has the number of kids participating
in local recreation programs. That is especially true in Jefferson,
where the number of kids playing sports surged over the last
couple of years. The program grew so much that it became apparent
the city needed to create its own recreation department to help
coordinate the programs currently done by volunteers.
It's basically a good idea. In addition to coordinating recreation
programs, the city also needs someone to run its pool and summer
day camp programs.
That department was created last year, but in the process of
putting it in place, egos have gotten in the way. The result
is that a mess of problems are on the horizon unless the city
finds a way to get a handle on its infant program.
In a nutshell, the problems with the city recreation program
can be laid at the feet of city councilman Bosie Griffeth. After
being named as the council "liaison" for the department,
Griffeth has been a one-man wrecking machine, creating problems
every time he opened his mouth. The result has been even less
coordination with the county recreation department and a serious
strain between the city and the rest of Jackson County. In the
process, he even managed to anger the volunteers who had been
running the program.
Here's just one example: The fields used for recreation baseball
games are on city school property, but the utilities for those
fields have been paid by the volunteer recreation booster club.
That was true even when the Jefferson High School girls' softball
team practiced and played - the recreation boosters still paid
the water and light bills. Efforts to change that were met with
resistance - the girls' high school booster club apparently didn't
want to pay its share of the cost during its fall season.
When the city created its recreation department, it was agreed
that at the end of the spring baseball season, the city would
take over responsibility for the fields' utilities. But in June
when volunteers attempted to have the utilities switched, it
was blocked by Griffeth. For several days, the city refused to
switch the water service and give the volunteer booster club
a final bill. Griffeth had apparently ordered water department
employees to not cooperate with the volunteer group. Only after
Mayor Byrd Bruce got involved was the matter resolved.
Griffeth also reportedly told booster club officials he wanted
to see their books and indicated the city wanted both the money
and equipment owned by the private non-profit organization.
That, of course, didn't set well with the volunteers who had
worked to raise the money and purchase the equipment. While there
had been some questions about booter club funds in the past,
those issues were resolved with new leadership this year. Wisely,
booster club leaders refused that demand and both the equipment
and funds were secured in a safe place out of Griffeth's grasp.
But that is just the beginning of the problems. What city officials
are just now discovering is that because Griffeth has caused
such a strained relationship with both the local volunteers and
the county recreation department, they are isolated and without
much support. Any child in Jefferson will still be able to participate
with the county recreation program and could, therefore, bypass
the city altogether. If a lot of kids did that, it would decimate
the city recreation department.
For one thing, the city doesn't own any recreation equipment.
It will take tens of thousands of dollars to purchase all of
the necessary equipment to field football teams this fall, money
that is not in the city budget. Soccer will also take some startup
funding. And unless the city can undo the damage Griffeth created
with the volunteer booster club, it won't have any baseball equipment
in the spring.
But an even larger problem is that the ill-will created by Griffeth
has some outside the city wanting the county recreation department
to not schedule games with the Jefferson department. That could
mean that those who play in the Jefferson league would have to
travel elsewhere to find opponets.
All of this could have been avoided had the city created its
department the right way and paced its growth. There's no doubt
the city needs someone to run its summer program and to coordinate
with the county on scheduling and other details.
But the city cannot afford to create an independent recreation
program in a single year and it cannot afford to alienate the
parents and volunteers who have worked to build the area's recreation
Because of ego and arrogance, Jefferson's efforts to create a
viable recreation program are teetering on the brink of disaster.
And if it fails, there's going to be a lot of mad moms and dads
standing before the city council this fall wanting to know what
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.
The Commerce News
July 3, 2001
Today (Wednesday) is Independence Day, supposedly set aside to
remember the founding of our nation by men willing to risk the
wrath of the world's greatest power to make it happen.
Alas, for the most part, July 4 is just another day off. No complaint
about having the day off, mind you, but the percentage of Americans
who use any part of July 4 to consider the remarkable events
leading to the creation of the United States of America is minuscule.
Independence Day is a day to watch auto racing, to go to the
lake and to violate Georgia's restrictions against the possession
or use of fireworks.
The signing of the Declaration of Independence was a watershed
moment in the creation of this country, but it had to be followed
by years of war against England, then the world's superpower.
And, when the patriots finally pulled it off, those hard-won
freedoms had to be painstakingly made into national law through
the creation of the United States Constitution.
Those events now remain condensed into a few days of study in
American History courses and a footnote in the early days of
summer, resurrected now and then for a new movie or book set
in those times. The freedoms we retain today did not come easily
and they have survived through the blood and sweat of countless
men and women. Remember that today. Remember what we celebrate.